‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is superb and – this is something I’ve said before – as the first poem in someone’s first published book of poems, it is an astonishment. I’ve asked people to suggest candidates for a better first poem in a first book of poems and nobody can ever think of any. So that would be the poem I suppose I would start with if I wished to persuade people much younger than I am to love Eliot. Read that poem, and particularly read it aloud. It has so much which is the best of Victorian verse in it.
... An Interview with Sir Christopher Ricks – Part II.
Keats speaks as if revision is an admission of weakness, but that’s not actually how he proceeded. There is that great letter in which he asks why should he afterwards sit down coldly and consider that which, at the time, came out with fierce vivid critical attention. That is the combination of criticism and creation. But of course we know he did revise. We have evidence that he did. Poetry should come as naturally as ‘leaves to a tree’, and yet you have to prune trees.